SCI Foundation is now Unlimit Health. Learn more about what the change means for our ongoing efforts to eliminate neglected tropical diseases

Meaningful giving this holiday season

25 November 2021

Daily, we all make decisions on how to spend money.  What influences these decisions may be based on context and other personal factors, but ultimately, we want to ensure we are getting great value from our spending, particularly when faced with a choice.

In current times, the number of choices we have can seem overwhelming. Sometimes I wonder if I even spend too much time on individual items in a supermarket, for example, choosing chocolate which has me questioning whether it is Fairtrade, palm oil free, worth the additional money and crucially, if it will taste good!

Buying chocolate as a gift can pose even more choices, including whether flowers might just be the safer option.

GiveWell recommends the most cost-effective charities

When it comes to charitable giving, fortunately, GiveWell do all the hard work of choosing for those wanting to maximise their generous gifts.

GiveWell is a non-profit organisation that recommends high impact giving opportunities based on their regular and extensive (more than 20,000+ hours annually) research and analysis of worldwide and disparate charities. The analysis is focused on using independent evidence and GiveWell have built and refined a cost-effectiveness model to analyse charities. GiveWell’s recommended charities agree to transparency and share a significant amount of spending and monitoring data.

Additionally, GiveWell conducts interviews and site visits to hear about the projects and see the work on the ground. Following these mixed method, in-depth, critical appraisals and based on strict criteria, GiveWell recommends the charities that save or improve the most lives per dollar.

SCI Foundation in GiveWell’s top charities

Interventions that prevent infectious diseases and the morbidity and mortality caused by them intuitively have a high impact. Charities supporting interventions such as seasonal treatment and bed-nets for malaria, treatment for parasitic worm infections (deworming), vitamin A supplementation, cash incentives for immunisations and programs that improve lives via financial increases are among those considered by GiveWell as high impact and cost-effective. For the 11th consecutive year, SCI Foundation (formerly the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative) has been recommended as a top charity by GiveWell.

How has SCI Foundation achieved the ‘top charity’ rating?

I have been working at SCIF since January 2005, progressing to my current role as Director for Monitoring, Evaluation and Research. Over this time, SCI Foundation has worked very hard to adapt and improve support to health ministries in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa for the treatment of diseases such as schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminths, whilst achieving and maintaining impact with funds raised.

Colour codes and unique numbers are used to identify and upload data regarding participants of the Parameter Validation Survey in Kuka Kebele, Shey Bench Woreda, Bench Maji Zone, SNNPR. Credit: SCI Foundation/I. Getachew

Colour codes and unique numbers are used to identify and upload data regarding participants of the Parameter Validation Survey in Kuka Kebele, Shey Bench Woreda, Bench Maji Zone, SNNPR. Credit: SCI Foundation/I. Getachew

To ensure cost-effectiveness and enable countries to achieve their goals we focused on developing several key approaches:


We create successful cross-sectoral partnerships that promote inclusion and synergy. These partnerships support careful planning to maximise resource allocation, including donated drugs, and reduce the duplication of efforts where multiple partners and sectors may be working with health ministries.

Evidence-based decision-making

We generate evidence to inform decisions and guide our work. We support high quality surveys providing robust data as one component of our evidence-based decision-making. Decisions on how and where to direct funding for maximum impact are also influenced by programme performance and financial expenditure data that we produce. We have agility to adapt to this information within a changing global environment to improve efficiency and effectiveness.


A health worker is measuring the girl’s height so he can work out the dose of the medication. Ambohimiadana, in the district of Vatomandry, Madagascar. © SCI Foundation/END Fund/Viviane Rakotoarivony

We ensure that our work is sustainable and supports broader development. With our primary partners, health ministries in the countries where we work, we strive to contribute to the strengthening of systems and processes to ensure country ownership and leadership of efforts to control and eliminate the morbidity of schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminths. These enable ministries to deliver results against their own strategic plans and against the new and ambitious World Health Organization (WHO) Road Map for Neglected Tropical Diseases 2021 – 2030.

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